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Fear of Flying

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Fear of Flying

If you're traveling any distance at all, flying is your fastest, safest, most convenient, and economical choice for transportation. Worldwide nearly 3 million passengers fly every day. With very low air fares from widely available airline ticket discounts, more and more people are deciding to take to the skies.

Since 9/11 air travel has been a little more stressful, but there have been many improvements to the air transport system. If you are smart about your travel planning, chances are you will have a hassle-free, affordable, and enjoyable experience.

If you find yourself a little nervous about flying, there are many helpful resources available. Treatments methods available include virtual reality sessions, private therapy, classroom study, books, and tapes. There is also an online program created by an active airline pilot. If you have the jitters when planning your flights it might be worth a try to visit this free online course. It can answer your questions about weather, turbulence, flying over water, claustrophobia, losing control (panic attacks), terrorism, etc.

(Courtesy of the Fear of Flying Help Course - Fear of Flying Video: Prepare to Fly,
and Fear of Flying Book: Wings of DIscovery)

Top Ten Fear of Flying Tips

1. Turbulence may feel uncomfortable, but it is normal.
People often misunderstand turbulence. When encountering turbulence, nervous passengers feel the plane is "falling" out of the sky. It is natural for them to only feel the "down" bumps. But for every "down" there is an "up" bump. The "downs" are just more easily noticed. Next time you are driving on a bumpy road, imagine you are a passenger on a plane and how you would consider it to be "bad" turbulence. Now take a look at the road. How big are the bumps on the roadway to create the rough ride? The air is usually very smooth. But sometimes some small ripples can make it feel like "bad" turbulence!

2. The plane is strong, stable, reliable, and well maintained.
The FAA mandates that modern jet aircraft are designed and built with large safety margins. All aircraft and their equipment are built from FAA approved designs and manufactured under FAA approved systems. Coming out of the factory, the planes are thoroughly flight tested before certification by the FAA. Structurally, these aircraft can withstand many times the stresses and forces which can be imposed upon them in flight. Remember, airplanes are MEANT to be in the air. That’s where they’re happiest!

3. Trust the well trained and experienced crew.
When you board the plane mention to the flight attendants that sometimes you get a little nervous about flying, and ask if you may visit with the pilots. This is very important! The pilots are happy to have visitors, the flight attendants know this. You might be surprised at how receptive the pilots will be. Ask questions and mention your nervousness, they will understand and reassure you. The pilot's confidence is contagious. Now you have a friend up front who knows and cares about you! But remember, visits to the cockpit can ONLY be made on the ground, not during taxi or in flight. From FAA Personnel, to Air Traffic Controllers, to Aircraft Mechanics, to the Flight Crew, there is no industry in the world with better trained, tested, skilled, and motivated professionals than the people in the airline industry.

4. Trust the airline industry.
The FAA insures your safe and secure flying experience by monitoring, inspecting, drug testing, and certifying the people who work in safety related areas of aviation. Aviation is "black and white". There are no "maybes". Either it is 100% safe, or we don't do it. You may have heard the saying, "Safety is no accident". Each worker takes pride in his or her own work and keeps an eye on others. Because we understand the importance of our work on the safety of others, we will not tolerate anything less than perfection!

5. Flying is routine, here's proof.
Many people take comfort in going to the local airport to watch all the planes takeoff and land. After a while you begin to see that the flight operations are indeed routine. Others like to study the ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE monitors in the airport terminal to see just how many flights operate safely. Did you know that worldwide nearly 3 million passengers fly every day?

6. Positive Thinking.
Always try to keep your thoughts in the present. Keep your thoughts positive. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop, and concentrate on the positive. Many people dwell on what might happen instead of what is happening. It can be easy to play a "disaster movie" in your mind and you are the in the starring role! When you catch yourself starting the production of one of these imaginary "disaster movies" turn off the projector. Try to occupy your mind with something more constructive. Read, do a puzzle, strike up a conversation.

7. Tense Your Muscles.
Be aware of your body. When you feel muscles that are tense or tight, you can relax them. Instead of fighting the tightness, show your muscles whose boss! You tense your muscles! You take control! Go ahead and tighten your stomach muscles or your leg muscles. Then pause and let go. You will be surprised at how your muscles feel warm and relaxed, and you once again feel in control.

8. Overactive Imagination.
Quite often people who have a fear of flying also have a strong or overactive imagination. For example, they might hear an unfamiliar noise during the flight, and begin imagining what might be wrong with the plane to cause this noise. Or, they may believe in "signs" or "premonitions" that their plane will crash. For example, they might have a dream, or hear a song on the radio about a plane crash. Odds are, you are not psychic! Remind yourself of this fact, and focus on reality.

9. How to deal with nervous feelings.
When you feel afraid, your breathing quickens and your heart races. To calm yourself, first push your stomach outward. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Try to fill your lungs from the bottom up. Pause, and then exhale slowly. Do this a couple of times and you'll feel much better. Practice your controlled breathing whenever you can. Try it whenever you feel tense. Slow, deep breathing is the easiest and most effective method for calming yourself.

10. Even if you feel panicky, it cannot hurt you or cause you to lose control.
Remember that fear is a normal reaction to a perceived threat. Once you learn the threat really isn't dangerous, the fear naturally goes away. Fear itself is not harmful, it is meant to protect us. A panic attack will not make you have a heart attack, faint, or lose control. That is how we are programmed. Fear acts as our defense mechanism. It prepares us to fight or flee.

(Tips provided by the Fear of Flying Help Course and Fear of Flying Book: Wings of DIscovery)


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